Milton Graham Spann, Ph.D.



Dr. Richard D. Howe, “Milton Graham Spann, Ph.D.,” Appalachian State University Libraries Digital Collections, accessed April 24, 2024,

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Milton Graham Spann, Ph.D.


Appalachian State University
Universities and colleges--Faculty


Dr. Richard D. Howe




Biographical sketches


Boone (N.C.)

Spatial Coverage

Temporal Coverage



Professor Emeritus

Biographical Text

Professor Emeritus of Human Development and Psychological Counseling Senior Associate, National Center for Developmental Education Milton ("Bunk") Graham Spann, Jr. (March 31,1942-), was born in Greenville, South Carolina, the elder son of Milton Graham Spann, Sr. (1908-1987) and Sara Chalmers (1918-2000). Spann graduated from Greenville Senior High School in 1960 and earned a B.S. degree with a major in human relations and minors in psychology and sociology from St. Andrews Presbyterian College in 1964. He then earned an M.A. degree (1966) in Christian ethics at the Presbyterian School of Christian Education in 1966, and a Ph.D. (1976) in educational administration with cognates in community/junior college administration and instructional development from the University of Texas, Austin. During his doctoral studies he served as senior research associate for the National Institute of Mental Health Project in the Department of Educational Administration. Spann married the former Nancy Gray (June 10, 1941-) on August 16, 1964, in Statesville, North Carolina. The Spanns have one child, M. Graham Spann, III (November 17, 1968-), who has B.A. and M.A. degrees in sociology from Appalachian State and a Ph.D. in sociology from North Carolina State University. He is head of the sociology program at Lees-McRae College in Banner Elk, North Carolina and is married to Nan McAden (November 3, 1970) from New Bern, North Carolina. The couple has two children: a daughter, Sara Rose McAden Spann (September 26, 2002-), and a son, Mills McAden Spann (February 2, 2005). Dr. Spann began his career as a teacher, counselor, and administrator at Montreat-Anderson College (now Montreat College) in 1966, where he spent three years as a psychology instructor and as a director of student activities. From Montreat, he went to Southeastern Community College, Whiteville, North Carolina, where he directed the Advancement Studies Program and taught psychology from1969 to1974. Following two years of graduate work at the University of Texas at Austin, Spann was appointed, in 1976, as founding director of the National Center for Developmental Education at Appalachian State University. During his twenty-five-year career at Appalachian State, Spann founded and edited the Journal of Development Education (1978-2004), a national publication for professionals who work with academically underprepared college students; founded and served as consulting editor of Research in Developmental Education (1983-1989); founded and served as faculty member for the Kellogg Institute for the Training and Certification of Developmental Educators (1980-2003), a professional development institute for professionals who administer, counsel, and teach in programs for academically underprepared college students. In the years from 1976 to 1988 Spann was an associate professor and then professor in the Department of Leadership and Higher Education. He taught graduate courses in leadership and higher education, including adult development and higher education and the community college, and he provided leadership for the graduate program in Developmental Education. Dr. Spann was active in several professional organizations, including the National Association of Developmental Education where he served on the Board of Directors (1979-1980), and the North Carolina Association of Developmental Educators (1981-1983). He has also served on a number of advisory boards. Among these are NETWORKS (1979-1981) and the ACCTion Consortium (1979-1981). Additionally, he was a member of the task force on New Directions in Developmental Education for the North Carolina Department of Community Colleges (1981-1983) and a member of the Developmental Education Data Collection Committee for the Department (1983). In 1988, Spann moved into full-time teaching in the College Student Development program in the Department of Human Development and Psychological Counseling. During the next decade he taught the graduate and senior/graduate level courses and developed several new courses in the department, such as Counseling the Aging and Reality Therapy. He was active in the American Counseling Association's chapter of the Association for Spiritual, Ethical, and Religious Values in Counseling, serving on the board of directors. Spann wrote numerous articles on developmental education which contributed to the research and knowledge of developmental education within the higher education arena. He has consulted with over 250 colleges and universities and has published extensively in the areas of developmental education, control theory psychology, and reality therapy. Among his most recent publications are: • Spann, M.C. (2000). Remediation: A must for the 21st century learning society. Policy paper, (107). Education Commission of the States Handbook for Community College Policy, Denver, CO. • Spann, M.G. (2000). Rethinking developmental education: A conversation with John N. Gardner. Journal of Developmental Education 24 (1), 22-29. • Spann, M.G. & Drewes, S. (1998). The annotated Bibliography of Major Journals in Developmental Education 1991-1998, Vol. 2. Boone, NC: National Center for Developmental education, Appalachian State University. Spann has received numerous awards recognizing him for his many achievements. In 1981, he received the first Outstanding Developmental Educator award from the National Association for Developmental Education. He received awards for Outstanding Service from the Association for Spiritual, Ethical, Religious, and Values in Counseling in 1992, and from the American Counseling Association in 1994. In 2000, he was recognized by the American Council of Developmental Education Associations for his lifetime of contributions to the field of Developmental Education and Learning Assistance and was inducted into the initial class of "Founding Fellows." In addition, Spann was honored in 2001 by the University of Texas at Austin as a Distinguished Graduate of the Community College Leadership Program for his contributions to American higher education and for helping community colleges address the needs of college students at risk. He also received the first prestigious Mary Thomas Burke Award (2002) from the North Carolina Counseling Association, which recognized his mentoring of colleagues and students and his compassion and commitment to the counseling profession. In the fall of 2001, Spann was honored for his 25 years of service to the National Center for Developmental Education at the 2001 National Research Conference. Professor Spann retired from Appalachian State in June 2001 and began teaching part-time through the university's phased retirement program. In June 2004, he completed his phased-retirement teaching and is now fully retired. In October 2003 Spann was elected to a four-year term to the Boone Town Council. In this capacity, he served on a number of town committees, including the Boone Water Committee, the Smart Growth Task Force, and liaison to Appalachian State. Other community activities included Member of the Board of Directors for Appalachian Voices; Chair, 2007 Farm/City Banquet; Chair, Advisory Committee, Area Agency on Aging; Watauga County Senior Tar Heel Representative to the NC Senior Tar Heel Legislature; a member of the Steering Committee of the Watauga RiverKeepers Initiative and a member of Partnership for Watauga's Future. In 2007 Spann received the High Country Council of Government's annual award for outstanding service and contribution to Region D and its citizens while serving as a member and Vice-Chair of the Senior Tar Heel Legislative/Advisory Committee on Aging. Beginning in 2008 he was elected chair of the Senior Tar Heel Legislative/Advisory Committee. In 2008 he was appointed to the Town of Boone's Planning Commission and subsequently elected chair. Spann's new hobby is riding his motorcycle, and he also enjoys the continuation of a part-time practice in counseling and psychotherapy. Sources: Appalachian State University files, personal correspondence, and long association. -Dr. Richard D. Howe

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